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Once , Achebe has succeeded in writing a story that had me living in a very different world for a while Arrow of God is not about the delightful not Okonkwo nor the honest and upright not Obi Okonkwo Instead, Achebe has told the story of a completely different family, in no way related to the Okonkwos can we say that It is the story of a completely different tribe with different customs and rituals.Ezeulu is the chief priest of Ulu, a god that binds six villages together He takes his duties seriously and tries to do his job conscientiously Is that enough when six entire villages look to you for their welfare No, some common sense is also required In the end, Ezeulu destroys himself as well as his villages, in the process destroying the religion itself The story has different thematic layers to it, and I am still not sure I grasped them all Brilliant work, as usual.The book explores the rigidity of religion and how it can destroy people If religion is important for some people, then so is flexibility in its interpretation Another theme is how the missionaries waited like vultures to pounce on the people the moment they were dissatisfied with the rigidity of their own religion, unlikely to understand that they were just exchanging one superstition for another The blunders of British colonial rule have also been explored While the British patted themselves on the back on how good a job they were doing for the locals, they were slowly and steadily destroying an entire civilisation, preventing it from progressing on its own in a waysuited to the local environment.But despite the exploration of all these overarching themes, the core of the book remains the story as it should be Much too often authors tend to hammer their point home instead of working on their plots One reason why I think Achebe is a much superior writer to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, even though I am muchin sympathy with the latter s works because she also includes feminist ideas in her book, which Achebe doesn t touch I don t think Achebe is a deliberate misogynist, however I think he just depicted the harsh treatment of women in tribal life accurately Arrow of God is a comprehensive look at tribal life after the arrival of missionaries The characters are rich and vibrant, the depiction of daily life is lush and detailed, and the quirks of Nigerian English fully came across in the dialogues The dialogues were peppered with African aphorisms, which just made me feel even closer to these people It is a bit of a hard read because of this but fully worth your while.I think I would need to read these books again, several times, in fact, to getout of them But I ll never read them for the first time again And that s really sad. I had a fiendishly difficult time with this book, which I found odd because Things Fall Apart was like reading water, and even A Man of the People was engaging and straightforward But although I loved what Achebe did in Arrow of God, I had a really hard time actually reading the damn thing I m pretty sure that the fault was with me I don t know enough about the Igbo, I find proverbs irritating, my brain is lately in other places because I could sense some of the power of the novel, but was ultimately unable to experience it It was like reading a book through a shop window Siiiigh. Read it because it was listed as one of Adichie s favourite books.The story is somewhat like Things Fall Apart in that it narrates a story of the rise and, later, fall of a man due to values changing under a challenge from colonial rule only this time it was a religious leader, instead of a warrior farmer.The reading experience was greatly enhanced from my having read Carl Jung s Man and His Symbols To begin with, Jung had much to say about the masks and their impact on personality and the group dances in which everyone seems to be in frenzy I bet Jung would have loved the book especially the relationships between the people in the book and their gods.The protagonist, Ezeulu is constantly holding conversations with his god which might be called hallucination but Jung would have called it conversing with one s collective consciousness Because apart from these conversations with his god, Ezeulu can be considered normal Moreover, people actually want him to hold conversations with the godEveninteresting is the way in which people can discard gods who have failed to behave aptly and accept the protection of new gods Gods do not have the right to punish people unjustly This change of gods according to needs of society seems to correspond to Jung s ideas the change in conscious beliefs for the primitive tribes to be in harmony to change in needs of their collective unconscious Jung believed that most of the modern people s existential crisis arises exactly because of the lack of such harmony.And there are of course proverbial expressions which is one of the best things about Achebe s writingsA man might pick his way with the utmost care through a crowded market but find that the hem of his cloth had upset and broken another s wares in such a case the man, not his cloth, was held to repair the damage He forgot the saying of the elders that if a man sought for a companion who acted entirely like himself he would live in solitude A man who asks questions does not lose his way Better than Things fall apart in some aspects Includes some beautifully crafted passages. ( Download Pdf ) ⚓ Arrow of God ⚆ Set In The Igbo Heartland Of Eastern Nigeria, One Of Africa S Best Known Writers Describes The Conflict Between Old And New In Its Most Poignant Aspect The Personal Struggle Between Father And SonEzeulu, The Headstrong Chief Priest Of The God Ulu, Is Worshipped By The Six Villages Of Umuaro But His Authority Is Increasingly Under Threat From Rivals Within His Tribe, From Functionaries Of The Colonial Government, And Even From His Own Family Members Yet He Believes Himself To Be Untouchable Surely He Is An Arrow In The Bow Of His God Armed With This Belief, He Is Prepared To Lead His People, Even If It Is Towards Their Own Destruction But His People Will Not Be Dominated So EasilySpare And Powerful, Arrow Of God Is An Unforgettable Portrayal Of The Loss Of Faith, And The Downfall Of A Man In A Society Forever Altered By Colonialism
Arrow of God 1964 Chinua AchebeLast summer I read Things Fall Apart which is the first of a trilogy by C Achebe Arrow of God is the third I literally couldn t put it down Again, this is a novel about the struggle between old ways and new tradition and change It s set in the 1920s Here too a son is sacrificed and sent to the White man s school church to learn his language and ways Arrow of God may essentially be the story of a chief priest, his wives and children and the patterns of everyday life in the community of six villages, but at the root of all of that are the universal characteristics of human nature All too often, individuals, and here both the British and Umuaro are portrayed, tend to be petty jealous quick to take offence full of self importance and have inflated egos the consequences of an action are often overlooked However, respect, generosity, friendship and love are also present Bureaucracy, too plays it s part The fault of our Administration is that they invariably appoint the wrong people and set aside the advice of those of us who have been here for years Winterbottom p.110 As Achebe has said, My politics is concerned with universal communication across racial and cultural boundaries as a means of fostering respect for all people As long as one people sit on another and are deaf to their cry, so long will understanding and peace elude all of us.http www.enotes.com contemporary liLanguageWhat particularly intrigued me was Achebe s use of language This would be a great text to use with students of English, in particular with students in Mediazione or translation the power of words, the role played by intermediaries and their responsibility problems of misinterpretations so many due to cultural misunderstandings see in particular chapter 14.Again, as in Things Fall Apart there is the integration of native vocabulary and forms, i.e His obi was built differently from other men s huts. p.1 In places, the wording is a little awkward, the syntax somewhat unexpected or the use of certain words rather odd, all of which contributes to a very definite idea of African English you are aware of different culture, i.e., TrueWhere you might expect, Really Davvero Simple sayings of great wisdom, old wives tales, and idiomatic expressions which are found in Things Fall Apart are repeated throughout Arrow of God if a man sought for a companion who acted entirely like himself he would live in solitude p94 he is a fool who treats his brother worse than a stranger p96.Have you not heard that when two brothers fight a stranger reaps the harvestp132 I had great fun trying to find equivalent idiomatic expressions A man who brings home ant infested faggots should not complain if he is visited by lizards. If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas Let us first chase away the wild cat, afterwards we blame the hen. Let s not put the cart before the horse I do not blame you for wanting to bale that water before it rises above the ankle. nip sth in the bud A toad does not run in the daytime unless something is after itno smoke without fire Did not our elders tell us that as soon as we shake hands with a leper he will want an embracegive an inch take a mile You indeed walked into the mouth of a leopard.lion s den Akuebue was wondering how best to lead on to the object of his coming he decided to split it open with one blow of the matchet as the people of Nsugbe were said to split their coconut. take the bull by the horns I can smell a poisoner as clearly as I can a lepersmell a ratfoolish for a man to spit out a morsel which fortune had placed in his mouth.Don t look a gift horse in the mouth hand that feeds youhe trembles and passes premature shit.gets the shits We have not wrestled we have merely studied each other s hand.sized each other up That was the terror of the puff adder it would suffer every provocation, it would even let its enemy step on its trunk it must wait and unlock its seven fangs one after the other Then it would say to its tormentor Here I ambide your time A man must dance the dance prevalent in his time,product of our times The noise even of the loudest events must begin to die down by the second market week.time heals all A snake is never as long as the stick to which we liken its length.fishing storiessomeone was talking into his talk Please do not speak into my words.interrupting I shall sit here until I have seen the head and the tail of this matter.get to the bottom of sth age matessame generation peersUnusual images The moon he saw that day was as thin as an orphan fed grudgingly by a cruel foster mother p1 His breath seemed to be scraping his sides with a blunt razor p113 His breath was like the splitting of hard wood p115 When he took his wife to his hut after the sacrifice, would he find her at home as the saying was or would he learn with angry humiliation that another had broken in and gone off with his prize p119 Unless the penis dies young it will surely eat bearded meat p144 Ezeulu could watch that part of the sky where the moon had its door p146 You may go with him if your feet are hungry for a walk p146 They looked at him like rats gnawing away at the sole of a sleeper s foot, biting and then blowing air on the wound to soothe it, and lull the victim back to sleep p146 Won t you wait and watch the face of the sky awhile p147 search for the door of the new moon p161 Our eyes see something we take a stone and aim at it But the stone rarely succeeds like the eye in hitting the mark p172 I had some difficulty with names knowing how to pronounce them might have helped a little like reading a Russian novel in that way Definitely planning to read No Longer at Ease second volume of the trilogy.http topics.nytimes.com top referen 3.5 stars. I was first struck by how funny this novel was I guffawed several times while reading it It takes a remarkable writer to do this with humor, especially across cultures.I thought this work illustrated well the role of religion in society For the Igbo there was no separation of religion from society they were one and the same It s perhaps fitting that while the administration doesn t quite get this Clarke doesn t even understand that a Chief Priest is not the same as a medicine man , the missionaries do, ultimately manipulating the villages to connect Christianity to their harvest.Achebe does a superb job humanizing Ezeulu in the story, so that the reader forgets that he is truly half spirit This makes Ulu s command to stay the course of revenge near the conclusion all theshocking There is no option for Ezeulu to do anything else At the other end of the spectrum, the reader witnesses the death of the Umuaro society in their necessary drive to survive by finding a way to harvest Similarly, it would have meant the death of Ezeulu at least culturally had he accepted the Chief position since his society isn t structured to be ruled with the exception of the quasi king that first had to pay everyone debts Instead Ezeulu chooses the path of self destruction.From the British colonial perspective, Achebe shows the tension of indirect rule and their priorities Clarke and Captain Winterbottom discuss all the money spent on native courts that they natives won t use and the void of funding for infrastructure like roads This is important because one could argue that it is these roads that enable the homogenization of the Igbo people and subjugate a shared identity onto them.FOLLOWING ARE MY NOTES FOR THE GRAD SCHOOL COURSE IN WHICH WE READ THIS NOVEL More notes are available on my blog For Unofficial Use Only.Arrow of God Notes Humor that the English think they understand the people, but they still don t despite prolonged presenceparallels to our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan Advantages of living near the infrastructure In direct rule seeks lighter hand by defaultgoal isto maintain a status quo of peace Comments on missionary role by Capt W Influence of infrastructure on Igboshifting from a language group to an identity with regards to religion, subtleties in the regiona priest chief is not necessarily a medicine man Religion is the same as the societythere s no delineation as in Western culture.Ezeulu Chief Priest of UluMatefi Ezeulu s senior wifeUgoye Ezeulu s younger wifeOkuata Ezeulu s wife that is deadEdogo Eldest son of Ezeulu, and OkuataObika son of Ezeulu drunk and troublesome and handsome and UgoyeNwafo youngest son of Ezeulu his favorite and UgoyeObiageli daughter of Ezeulu sister of Nwafo and UgoyeOjiugo daughter of Ezeulu and MatefiAkueke daughter of Ezeulu and OkuataOduche Ezeulu s sonCHAPTER 1Ezeulu Chief Priest of Ulu introduction as he looks to the sky for the new moon which he must announce Ezeulu s announcements control the harvest seasons, most importantly the New Yam Feast Edogo carves ancestral masks Ezeulu is bitter about division among the six villages because he spoke the truth to the white man and testified against his people about land dispute with Okperi Obika beats up and humiliates Akueke husband who had been beating her Oduche is training with the whites per Ezeulu s instructions.CHAPTER 26 Villages come together and call for war against the Okperi led by Nwaka Akukalia is killed when Umuaro messengers lose their temper War ensues with retaliatory killings Then the whiteman intervenes and judges the land to belong to Okperi He also breaks all their guns.CHAPTER 3Captain Winterbottom is introduced and Tony Clark as his assistant He recounts their version of the Umuaro Okperi wars which are different from reality Captain Winterbottom believe in the value of native institutions but is forced to enforce indirect rule Ibos never developed a system of central authority.CHAPTER 4Enmity of Nwaka and Ezeulu is revealed Oduche was given to learn the ways of the whiteman s church Oduche put a python in a box, which Ezeulu finds and frees scandal ensues Ezidemelli Nwaka s friend and python priest asks what he will do to purify his home.CHAPTER 5Winterbottom doesn t believe indirect rule is effective but most obey his superiors Great tragedy of British colonial administration was that the man on the spot who knew his African and knew what he was talking about found himself being constantly overruled by starry eyed fellows at headquarters Ibos detest kings, but Ikedi makes himself one as a puppet of the administration he s very corrupt.CHAPTER 6Akueke s inlaws come for her and promise not to let husband beat her Ezeulu agrees to this.CHAPTER 7Purification day for the six villages Ugoye has the most ivory of Ezeulu s wives Nwaka s wives has most ivory Ezeulu does the purification dance Women gossip.CHAPTER 8Mr Wright needs unpaid labor to finish his road and gets it from the Umuaro Obika is late because he was drunk to the road work party and gets whipped In the ensuing controversy Moses acts as an intermediary Ezeulu tries to get to the bottom of what happens and his sons show no remorse The death that will kill a man begins as an appetite.CHAPTER 9Akuebe visits Ezeulu to talk about Obika and the lack of respect of the youth in general.Pride of Umuaro that they never see one party as right and the other as wrong.CHAPTER 10Background on Capt W including his soldiering in Cameroon and how his wife ran off with someone else Capt W expresses disgruntlement at the bureaucracy and their flawed administrative appointments Capt W and Clarke dine Clarke and Wright are friends and no one ever investigates whipping Capt W intends to make Ezeulu paramount chief Idea of institutions vs Infrastructures is addressed with administration spending all the money on native courts but not enough on roads Most Africans aren t using the courts either or at least willingly.CHAPTER 11Ezeulu visits Akuebe where a man is sick Ezeulu asks him what the man did to deserve the sickness Obika and Okuata wed The medicine man keeps the chicken from the ceremony which he isn t supposed to do Ezeulu hopes Obika is a changed man.CHAPTER 12Edogo talks to Akuebe and feigns disinterest in being chosen to succeed his father Oduche gets in fight with Obija about the python Ezeulu says that Oduche is a sacrifice from the people to Akuebe Capt W sends messengers to tell Ezeulu to come see him Ezeulu says no, I will send my son Edogo No one however great can win judgment against a clan.CHAPTER 13Ezeulu calls all the village leaders to talk about being summoned Nwaka jabs at him over his friendship with the whiteman Ezeulu is unaffected at least outwardly by it Capt W sends for Ezeulu to be arrested and falls ill Guards come to arrest Ezeulu but they miss him because he already left to come in The eat, take a bribe and leave Ezeulu arrives at headquarters and everyone things he cast a spell to make Capt W sick He likes this.CHAPTER 14Obika returns home and Ezeulu has a vision in prison He starts to plot his revenge Ezeulu s family comes to visit him He s offered the position of Chief and refuses it The advantages of getting in with the whiteman early are discussed Clarkes calls him a witch doctor highlighting the levels of misunderstanding culturally.CHAPTER 15Ezeulu is in prison 32 days and his reputation soars as he still refuses the offer He s then released Capt W and Clarke get a message from the administration stating that they reserved the adverse report on indirect rule but any change in policy will have to come from the governor They are directed to maintain the status quo but not appoint any new chiefs.CHAPTER 16Ezeulu returns home, enjoying the suffering and plotting his revenge He reconsiders his revenge due to all the nice people coming to visit him Ezeulu is told by Ulu that he can t reconsider, he s an arrow of god against Idemelli and the python god Ezeulu remarks that he is half man and half spirit He wonders if his boy is also an arrow.CHAPTER 17Life returns to normal in the village A new ancestral mask is introduced Obika slaughters the ram in the ceremony and Edogo carvest he mask.CHAPTER 18Feast of New Yam approaches and Ezeulu plots his revenge He s questioned by lots of people for delaying the announcement He rebukes them The elders come and ask him to ask Ulu how they can appease him so that they can have their yam harvest Ulu says no Ezeulu is despised by his people Goodcountry says if they give church a yam they can harvest their fields and he will protect them from Ulu The best way to deal with whiteman is to know him so they send their kids to his school.CHAPTER 19People are starving Ezeulu is shunned and lonely Obika has a fever but goes to dance in a burial ceremony and dies Ezeulu is ruined People go to Goodcountry so they can harvest. ,, ,,, ,, , , ,. Arrow of God often paired with Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease, as part of The African Trilogy is a book with a troubled gestation and a difficult publishing history Achebe had planned, as I noted in the review of No Longer at Ease, to originally compose a trilogy giving substance to the decision to create The African Trilogy but Arrow of God is not the third part of Achebe s trilogy Whereas Okonkwo and Obi Okonkwo hero of Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease respectively are grandfather and grandson, the hero of Arrow of God, Ezeulu, has no biological connection to these men nor does he even belong to their tribe Even Achebe admitted in his introduction to the Picador edition of the trilogy, that Arrow of God is not the missing story of my father s generation p.11 So if Arrow of God is not the novel he was expected to write, nor does it now exist as Achebe originally published it I do not know when Achebe revised this book, but the second copyright inscription is ten years after its first publication, in 1974 In his preface to the second edition, reprinted in the Picador edition, Achebe offers this by way of explanation I have become aware of certain structural weaknesses in it which I now take the opportunity of a new edition to improve P.317 Without the original edition to compare I cannot make further comment upon this.The story of Arrow of God is closer in tone to Things Fall Apart than No Longer at Ease, taking us as it does to 1920s Nigeria, to a country where the white man s presence is no longer just felt, but lived under The tribespeople that we last saw in Things Fall Apart ostensively for the most part stick to their traditions, but have come to a compromise with the fetish of the white man They are a Christian people with pagan ways Achebe describes it thus It is an enrichment of the old story of Africa in its initial struggle for its land and mind against the ruthless invaders from the West p.11 The white men who have come to Nigeria have not changed much from the district commissioner, George Allen from Things Fall Apart whose book The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger is required reading for Arrow of God s Captain Winterbottom The book says For those in search of a strenuous life, for those who can deal with men as others deal with material, who can grasp great situations, coax events, shape destinies and ride the crest of the wave of time, Nigeria is holding out her hands P.352 Nigeria is not just a country to pacify and convert it is a proving ground for the white man Captain Winterbottom, arriving in Africa late, has missed much of this, for the work of pacification was done in these parts P.351 but he is not beyond resorting to those methods again As he says to a new recruit who believes in methods of compassion and understanding of the native culture I see you are one of the progressive ones When you ve been here as long as Allen was and understood the native a littleyou might begin to see things in a different light If you saw, as I did, a man buried up to his neck with a piece of roast yam on his head to attract vultures you know well never mind We British are a curious bunch, doing everything half heartedly Look at the French They are not ashamed to teach their culture to backward races under their charge Their attitude to the native ruler is clear They say to him This land has belonged to you because you have been strong enough to hold it By the same token it now belongs to us If you are not satisfied come out and fight us P.354 355 In the heart of this speech is the cause of the conflict that engulfs the district of Umuaro Against Captain Winterbottom stands the Chief Priest Ezeulu, a man also not unfamiliar with dishing out petty cruelty to achieve ends Whenever they shook hands with him he tensed his arm and put all his power into the grip, and being unprepared for it they winced and recoiled with pain P.319 320 What we witness through the course of this novel is the petty erosion of Umuaro culture, the subsuming of traditional ways by modern Western forms It happens slowly, insidiously, without the people noting it Only when it is too late do the people of Umuaro notice Ezeulu says Let me ask you one question Who bought the white man here Was it Ezeulu We went to war against Okperi who are our blood brothers over a piece of land which did not belong to us and you blame the white man for stepping in Have you not heard that when two brothers fight a stranger reaps the harvest How many white men went in the party that destroyed Abame Do you know Five Five Now have you ever heard that five people even if their heads reached the sky could overrun a whole clan Impossible With all their power and magic white men would not have overrun entire Olu and Igbo if we did not help them Who showed them the way to Abame They were not born there, how then did they find the way We showed them and we are still showing them p.454 455 The scene for an epic fight between these two men Winterbottom and Ezeulu is set Only as in Things Fall Apart the resolution is not the one a Western audience might expect, in Arrow of God especially It is this reason that led Angus Calder to suggest that Arrow of God succeeded Things Fall Apart, and that book he claimed to be the most important of the century I personally feel that Arrow of God is a less successful novel, though it is still a very strong one Achebe, as in his first novel, is very good at painting a portrait of a very different society, but whereas in Things Fall Apart there was a stark poetry, here there is a wealth of detail but to a lesser effect.The title Arrow of God comes from an Igbo proverb in which an event or a person is said to represent the will of God, and in the struggle and acquiescence of African traditions to Western ones, Ezeulu standing against it for the good of his people, is struck down Before long, so will his land.